Students Lament About Colegio de San Juan de Letran’s Hair Policy

By: Andrea Eleanor Cabaron
September 09, 2023

Letranites express their dissatisfaction in regards with the newed policies concerning uniform and hair color. Photo courtesy of Yvonne Altaire Solon of The LANCE.

Letranites have expressed dissatisfaction with the school's restrictive hair policy in response to the Department of Student Affairs’ (DSA) release of Memo-DSA-2324-007 on Tuesday, September 5, containing the renewed policies for uniform attire and hair color for school year 2023-2024.

Many students say that their hair is an important aspect of their identity and a way for them to express themselves. It is more than simply hair; it is a representation of their uniqueness, personality, and culture. They claim that imposing a one-size-fits-all haircut regulation restricts their capacity to express themselves and robs them of their uniqueness. 

Furthermore, for some students, having long hair is more than just a fashion statement; it might be linked to cultural or religious convictions. Restricting their hair length may infringe on their freedom to practice cultural or religious practices.

Xyrelle Jara, a first year Psychology major shared her opinion about Letran’s hair policy. 

“Honestly, against po ako doon. Kasi [parang] wala naman pong kinalaman yung hair color sa pag-aaral ng students. Kasi [diba] sa ibang universities po yung mga suot po nila wala nang mga restrictions katulad nalang po sa MAPUA, hindi naman po nare-restrict yung learning ng estudyante. Atsaka [ano po nila ‘yon eh], way of expressing yourself. I think, nare-restrict niya yung student. I mean, oo, nire-respect natin na tradition ‘yun since tradition ‘yon kasi Catholic school. Pero, parang nare-restrict nila yung freedom of expression ng students.”

Another student, Aldous de la Pasion shares his thoughts about the Colegio’s policy, “In regards to the hair policy for both male and female. It’s pretty outdated na. If you see other schools, catholic schools, they have become more expressive and lenient. If you look at it objectively, parang what do you get from restricting students like simpleng bagay na magkulay ng buhok. Does it affect their grades? What’s the point of restricting it? I understand naman na Catholic school tayo and we need to maintain some form of professionalism.” 

Interviewed Letranites were also asked how they think the policy’s role in understanding rules and traditions in society. 

“Parang you’re just a cog in the machine. You’re expected to obey, parang in regards to Letran since it’s a Catholic school, the rules are more strict compared to other constitutions, compare sa mga katabi natin na colleges. Hindi sila nirerestrict sa buhok nila, yet they produce top students na graduating. Sa MAPUA, they still produce top engineering students in the country. Like, why should it just be a hassle to the students to just express themselves, di ba?” Aldous stated.

An anonymous interviewee of LGMA3B argues that the school’s hair policy does not entirely help the students’ life beyond school. 

“Yung ibang companies naman sa trabaho hindi sila strict sa hair color. Based naman sa experience ng ate ko, sa company nila hindi naman sila nire-restrict sa hair colors nila o kahit saan man sa parte ng katawan nila, basta at the end of the day ginagawa nila yung trabaho nila and disente ka parin tingnan sa pananamit mo. It does not make sense for me na irestrict mo sa tao yung sa bagay na hindi naman nakakasakit o against the law. Like sa LGBTQIA+ community or mga gays na gustong iexpress yung femininity nila sa paghaba ng buhok.”

A member of the LGBTQIA+ community and a 4th year student of the Colegio who chose to be anonymous also shared their sentiments on the matter of hair policy.

“I have been a student of catholic schools ever since I started studying so the hair policy of the Colegio isn't really new to me at all. How I feel about it is the same with how I feel about the other hair policies, I feel like it's unnecessary. It's not really harmful to me as the way I express myself fortunately abides with the existing policy, however I am aware as well that there are others who cannot fully express themselves because of the said policy.” They said,

“To go even further, I think it's passed already because the times have already changed so much, and what would have struck as a pardon for the term "queer" before, is now seen as art. I think it should be more lax because hair is not just hair, hair is something so personal and if we look into it, a person's hair doesn't really harm another person.” They added.

When asked if they ever felt that Letran’s policy limited their ability to express themself, they replied, “I've always wanted to color my hair, that's something that I've always wanted to do. Just to experience it, just to see if it suits me, because I would never know if it'll suit me if I never try it right. That's when I feel like the hair policy limits my ability to express my individuality, but then again, I chose to study here and therefore I should follow its rules.” 

Francis Eclevia, a 2nd year student of Journalism, says if the Colegio wanted to promote their freedom of expression, then all students should get equal opportunities to express themselves. 

“I'm male, and I loved my long hair as much as I loved dyeing it.” Eclevia said. 

Concluding the series of students’ interviews with The LANCE, they were also asked what they thought about the school hair policy, if they believe that this prepares them for a life beyond this school.

“When the time comes to conform to a strict policy at a job, then we do what we have to do, but what I don't understand is why the Colegio is smothering us with such arbitrary and stiff policies at what's supposed to be the height of our experimentation phase.” one Letranite shared.

“Why are other colleges and universities able to stick to lax dress codes, while I have to sweat through record-breaking heat waves while wearing 2 layers?” another Letranite stated.

The debate over Colegio de San Juan de Letran's hair policy touches on several important issues, including the role of identity in personal development, the cultural and religious significance of hairstyles, the potential psychological impact of strict grooming policies, the need to balance tradition and modernity, and the broader purpose of education in developing well-rounded individuals. 

While students urge for more inclusive policy changes, they also underline the need to value individuality while maintaining institutional discipline. This ongoing argument shows that educational institutions need help responding to shifting societal norms while maintaining fundamental beliefs and traditions.

As of publishing this article, the DSA is still taking its time to respond to my question concerning the hair policy within the Colegio. The LANCE have remained in contact with them for their perspective on the matter.